Courtesy of the Westfield State Sports Information Department.
GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Mount Saint Mary (NY) College rallied from a 12-point first half deficit to get past Westfield State, 85-80 in the opening round of the NCAA Division III national championship tournament at the Bream Gymnasium at Gettysburg College on Friday evening.
The Owls grabbed a 12-point lead, 46-34 late in the second quarter with back to back triples from Lucy Barrett and Chelsea Moussette, and Barrett added an off-balance three-pointer at the first half buzzer to take a 49-41 lead into the intermission.
The Knights slowly climbed back into the game in the third quarter, as their shooting from the floor heated up just as the Owls started to cool down.
Westfield finished with an NCAA record 18 made three pointers (on 61 attempts), but Mount Saint Mary took the Owls best shot.
"Down 10 or 12 in the first half, we needed to keep the lead around that 10 range. If we got down 15 or 18 would be really touch. We did a good job holding our own AND keeping it within striking distance," said MSMC head coach Mike Coppolino."
"They were shooting the ball tremendously well, added Coppolino. "They hit six threes in the first quarter, and I hoped the law of averages would catch up. Six times four is 24 threes and that would have been a major issue. They still had 18 but they did cool off a little bit."
"I didn't feel like we ever had a big lead," said Westfield State head coach Andrea Bertini. "Our leads are deceptive because we shoot so quick, and give up looks when we don't steal the ball. But I never felt like we were going to blow them out."
Westfield led 67-64 going to the fourth quarter after Kierra McCarthy knocked down a corner three with 10 sec left in the third.
Mount Saint Mary took their first lead of the second half at 69-67 MSMC on three pointer by Desrats with 7:45 left in game.
The Knights went up five on a baseline jumper from Toriana Tabasco with 3:05 left in the game to lead
77-72, but a McCarthy 3 pointer tied the game at 78-all with 2;00 left.
After a Tabasco baseline drive gave the Knights an 80-78, Barrett drove the lane and was fouled, hitting both shots to tie the game at 80 all with 1:28 to play.
On the decisive possession, Desrats hit a left corner three off an inbounds play with 16 seconds left to give the Knights an 83-80 lead.
Westfield saw McCarthy get off a contested step back three with Cleare guarding, but Annie Keenan grabbed the rebound and fouled with 9.3 seconds left to all but seal the Owls fate.
"Last couple of possessions we went what we thought was our best defensive lineup," said Bertni. "Because you're worried about giving up a three, but more concerned about the big kids inside, because we had to stick in a little bit and try and get a rebound. There are a couple of possessions you'd like to get back from a defensive perspective, but I didn't feel good about going man and letting them get that good look in the paint or a chance for an and one."
"They extended a lot more on the wings on the second half," said Barrett "I was surprised in the first half that we kept getting open looks on the three point line, but they addressed it. We were taking what they were giving us in the first half, and that why we were getting threes. But then they took it away a little because they had that presence inside, when they extend, once you get by you still had the big posts. They made good adjustments and we didn't capitalize or move the ball as much as we could have."
Barrett led Westfield with 21 points on 6-15 shooting from three point range. Gray added 17 points on 5-12 from down town, and McCarthy finished with 12 points and a team high seven rebounds. Junior point guard Chelsea Moussette handed out nine assists without a turnover in the game.
Four the Knights, Lauren Desrats led with 19 points while shooting 5-8 from three point range. Annie Keenan added 14 and 11 rebounds, and Kayla Cleare finished with 13 points and 13 boards.
Westfield's (18-9) season comes to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season.
Mount Saint Mary (23-5) plays Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in the regional final against the winner of tonight's second game, between hosts Gettysburg College and Christopher Newport (Va.).